Sunday, August 14, 2016

Parenting Success!

“It's not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It's our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”
― L.R. Knost

Thing 2 mows the grass
This morning, I pushed the pedal of the garbage can to lift the lid so I could put yesterday's coffee grounds into the bin.  The lid gaped open and I saw a snarled mass of blue painter's tape among the other garbage.  I gasped out loud and then wandered into the dining room where, last night, fairies had come and removed the tape and re-attached switch plates and electrical outlet covering to the walls.

Tears started streaming down my face.

Yesterday, as with most weekends lately, I spent much of my day painting.  Painting, painting, painting.  As The FiancĂ© and I look to blend our families and our homes, we've opted to sell my house.  And, in order to sell, a little prep work must be done.  So, we've both been working at our individual homes to get everything in order.  He's been here a lot but he has so much to do at his own home that it's often best to split our time and just work on our own stuff.

The boys have helped some as well but, for the most part, it's me. Painting, painting, painting.  And I'm TIRED of painting.  And I'm just tired in general. 

Yesterday, Thing 2 asked me how he could help.  I told him that it would be a great help to get that painter's tape off the floor and put the switch plates back on the wall.  We then went over to a delicious dinner at The FiancĂ©'s house and I figured he forgot all about it.

While I slept last night, he must have gone into the dining room and helped me out.

My kids are starting to really show their characters. 

Their actions and their words every day are showing me that these young men have bloomed into these thoughtful, rational, kind, funny and giving young men.  Now, as with all of us, they certainly have their flaws but I am so often amazed at who these people are. 

And I don't know how it happened but I know that we've made concerted efforts with high hopes that they would turn out just this way.
  • They were lovingly cuddled and read to as infants.  When they cried, I picked them up.  They had schedules.  I was respectful of them, telling them even before they understood, "I'm going to pick you up now," instead of swooping them into the air with no warning.
  • When they were young children, I was struggling myself.  But I apologized when my temper was short.  And I let them know that I was a little sad but that the sadness had nothing to do with them and that, in fact, their very existence made me happy.  I told them that my sadness would go away.  And it did.  I believe it's important to not involve your kids in your problems but to let them know that you do have them.  And it's very important to let them see you working through your problems.  Life isn't's very, very messy.  Letting kids think that life doesn't have challenges just isn't fair to them.
  • We have always talked to them as if they were adults.  Their questions were answered.  Obviously the subject matter was tailored to their developmental stages, but we always gave them reasons behind actions.  
  • In our house, we do what we say we're going to do.  Period.
  • We have allowed discussion.  One time, when Thing 2 was 10, he had asked me if he could attend a friend's event.  He was already committed to going to his grandparents' house, so I told him that he could not.  He was obviously disappointed but said OK. After a little while, he came to me and asked if he could talk to me about my decision.  He said then that this event was important to him and that it only happened once per year.  And, while he realized it would happen again next year, a year was a FULL TENTH OF HIS LIFE.  He reminded me that he was still very, very young.  He didn't whine and he didn't cry.  He just stated his case.  And I listened.  And I changed my answer.  But I did make him call his grandparents and let them know why he was backing out of his prior commitment to them. 
  • We have always encouraged them to TRY everything.  
  • Kindness matters in our house.  Words like "stupid" and "shut up" were never allowed here.  I even curtailed my own sailor's mouth.  For a while. :)
I don't know if anything we did helped them become who they are today but I do hope that most of what we did had a positive impact.  I am a pretty strong believer in nature over nurture, but I know that a nurturing environment has to at least act as a springboard.  I hope that we have shown them to treat others the way you expect to be treated. 

It is overwhelming to me that these boys are turning into young men that I admire.  I know that their hearts are right where I want them to be as a mom of boys.  They will respect their girlfriends and, eventually, their wives and children.  They will be honest and kind.  And they will take care of their mama.  The blue tape in the garbage this morning showed me that.

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